Ocean Youth Forum - Frequently Asked Questions

How does the COVID-19 Pandemic affect the Ocean Youth Forum?

The Ocean Youth Forum will make decisions on postponement in alignment with the UN Ocean Conference. The UN Ocean Conference has published the following notice:

<<Portugal and Kenya, as Co-Hosts of the UN Ocean Conference, would like to inform Member States and all stakeholders that consultations with the United Nations are ongoing with a view to postponing the 2020 United Nations Ocean Conference to a later date, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates on this will be made available as soon as possible.

The co-hosts would like to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of our Ocean, as well as their readiness to resume the logistical preparations as soon as possible. Meanwhile, substantial preparatory work should continue as feasible in the present circumstances.>>

HOWEVER, SOA intends to fully complete the selection process regardless of any potential postponement of the Ocean Youth Forum or UN Ocean Conference as a result of the pandemic. In the event of postponement, the same 100 delegates selected during this recruitment campaign will be invited to attend the OYF and UN Ocean Conference at a later date. There will not be another opportunity to apply for the forum.

About the Ocean Youth Forum

About the Event

In alignment with the 2020 UN Ocean Conference theme, "Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions", and with the aim of giving youth the opportunity to contribute for the implementation of this important SDG,  the Governments of Portugal and Kenya will host the Ocean Youth Forum, organized by the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, in close cooperation with the Portuguese Minister of Education and with the support of Oceano Azul Foundation. The Ocean Youth Forum will showcase youth-led ocean solutions focusing on the two pillars of the theme - science and innovation - and feature discussions on existing solutions to address the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, taking also into consideration the potential interlinkages, synergies and spill over effects that will come from the implementation of other SDG’s like Goal 13 on climate change, Goal 15 on land use, Goal 6 on water and sanitation or Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production. The Ocean Youth Forum constitutes a crucial opportunity for youth from around the world, from sectors such as science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, civil society and sports, to get together and bring the best developments and ideas in their respective fields of work to harness their untapped potential and find new solutions for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.  

Background information

The United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 73/292 decided to convene the 2020 United Nations Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The overarching theme of the Conference is "Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions".

The theme of the Ocean Youth Forum would be in alignment with the UN Ocean Conference and feature youth-led ocean solutions focusing on the two pillars science and innovation, and feature progress and existing solutions to address all the SDG 14 targets, with a special focus on those that are maturing in 2020, namely:

  • 14.2, By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans.
  • 14.4, By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasibly possible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.
  • 14.5, By 2020, conserve at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.
  • 14.6, By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation.

Forum objectives

The Ocean Youth Forum 2020 will be a platform for raising awareness and ocean-action,  to showcase  youth-led solutions and to scale up effective action to address the implementation of SDG14 targets. 

The Ocean Youth Forum (OYF) will:

  1. Create a platform for effective and inclusive participation of young people, from sectors such as science, technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, civil society and sports;
  2. Feature youth-led solutions at the OYF and the UN Ocean Conference that can accelerate the implementation of SDG14 targets, in particular those that are maturing already in 2020 (14.2 / 14.4 / 14.5 / 14.6);
  3. Support young entrepreneurs and innovators in scaling up their initiatives, projects, ideas, campaigns, with professional training, matchmaking with investors and the private sector, including with other organizations and government officials to maximize their impact;
  4. Highlight the Ocean-Climate nexus and the importance of knowledge and science as the basis of innovation and ocean actions, including the source-to-sea / ridge-to-reef approach;
  5. Engage young leaders as a key driver for change and harness the potential of the youth movement and social platforms to raise awareness to the vital importance of leaving a healthy Ocean to future generations.

When and where is the event?

The Ocean Youth Forum will be hosted by Oceano Azul Foundation at the Lisboa Oceanário in Lisbon, Portugal from May 30-31

On June 1, delegates will have the chance to explore Lisbon. 

On June 2-3, delegates accredited for the UN Ocean Conference will attend the UN Ocean Conference, at the Altice Arena. 

Delegates are expected to arrive on May 29 and depart on June 4. Delegates can choose to stay for the remaining days (June 4-6) at their own expense. 


I cannot be in Lisbon for the entire period May 29-June 4, can I still attend?

You may still be nominated; however,

all delegates MUST arrive on or before May 29; 

delegates that must leave before June 4 will only be considered after the final deadline, after the final shortlisting, and if spots still remain.

Who can be nominated for the Ocean Youth Forum?

Nominees should be young people playing a leading role in an ocean solution including but not limited to a: campaign, business, program, or project aligned with SDG14.

We are looking for young people that want to have a say on ocean related issues. This includes problem solvers, sustainability champions, students and young professionals between the ages of 18 & 35 years old. 

The forum is open to international participants. Delegates from no less than 60 countries will be invited to the Ocean Youth Forum.

Why can't youth under 18 participate?

Unfortunately, minors will not be permitted to register for the UN Ocean Conference. Thus, we cannot support their participation in the forum as it is the goal of the forum organizers to have all youth delegates actively participate in the UN Ocean Conference.

Why must youth be nominated?

The Ocean Youth Forum is not an official UN event. However, all registrants for the UN Ocean Conference must be tied to a UN-accredited organization. The organizers of the Ocean Youth Forum seek to ensure that all delegates are able to register for the UN Ocean Conference. Thus, the organizers are using a nomination process to ensure that as many delegates as possible apply to the forum with the support of an organization willing to provide them with an accredited registration.

We understand that the accreditation and registration process can be confusing. Unfortunately, if you still have questions, you must consult the UN for answers. Information can be found here

Nominations can only be received online here before March 22, 2020, 11:59pm PST.

Who can nominate potential delegates?

The nomination form is intended to be completed by an accredited organization or member state that wishes to nominate a young ocean leader to attend the Ocean Youth Forum.

We recognize that some organizations or member states may not have the time or information to complete this form, nominees may complete this form on their own behalf.

HOWEVER, those self-nominating must still have a nominating organization supporting their application, and provide evidence thereof.

Any applicant that falsely claims to have the support of a nominating organization will be immediately and permanently disqualified from all future SOA-run events.

Confirmation emails will be sent to the Point of Contact at the nominating organization and to the Nominee.

How many nominations can an organization submit?

Each organization can submit an unlimited number of nominations.

Only one delegate per organization can be invited. If a nominee doesn't have any affiliation with the nominating organization, then the nominee will not count against them. (I.e. an organization could nominate both an employee and a well known ocean leader in their country and both could theoretically be accepted.)

Member states are not subject to any nomination restrictions.

Overall, the forum is unlikely to allow more than two delegates from any one country, apart from the host countries Portugal and Kenya.

What if my organization has applied for special accreditation but has not yet received it?

Organizations that apply for accreditation by the deadline (March 10) can still complete the nomination form.

For more information please visit this page here.

I run my own organization and it is accredited. Can I nominate myself?

Yes. In this case, you can put your contact information as both the nominator and the nominee.

I am not affiliated with an accredited organization, what can I do?

If you are not affiliated with an accredited organization, you must find an organization to support your application. Information about such organizations can be found here.

There is a very simple search engine to look for "ECOSEC" accredited organizations here

The first round of organizations that have already been granted "Special Accreditation" for the UN Ocean Conference are listed here

There is still time for your organization to apply for "Special Accreditation"- Find out how on the Participate page.

Please note: SOA cannot provide any assistance in matching interested youth with such organizations. SOA will not reply to requests on this subject.

What relationship do I need to have with the organization that nominates me?

You don't need to work for them, but they do need to agree to support your nomination.

What are the selection criteria?

Nominations will be reviewed on a rolling basis against the following criteria:

  • Background - the extent to which the nominee's area of focus professionally, academically, or in his/her civic engagement is relevant to the SDG14 targets
  • Vision - the extent to which the nominee’s current work aligns with the goals and values of the youth forum
  • Ocean Impact - the amount of impact the nominee’s current and previous work has had on an area of the ocean sector. This will be evaluated in terms of number of people reached, geographic area covered, scale of operations, impact on legislation etc.
  • Scalability - can the nominee’s work be scaled to new audiences, geographies, or sectors
  • Leadership - concrete examples of leadership through projects or initiatives and attendance at major events and forums
  • English proficiency - English independent user

When will you begin reviewing nominations?

The organizers reserve the right to begin reviewing nominations at any point during the nomination window. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to submit nominations as soon as possible.

How many young leaders will be selected and have the chance to participate in the forum?

This year, we will select between 100 ocean leaders.

When will selected participants be announced?

Selected delegates will be announced on April 6, 2020.

What do I need to prepare for the forum?

In preparation for an intensive program, Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) will schedule online Ocean Learning Labs to frame the discussion and build foundational competency in the topics at hand, including eco-tourism, fishery management, the circular economy, amongst others.

Attendance is mandatory and details will be provided at a later stage

Do I have to pay for accommodation?

Portugal, through Movijovem/Portuguese Youth Hostels has generously offered to cover each participant's accommodation in Youth Hostels, in Lisbon, from May 29 (check-in)  to June 4 (check-out). Most rooms are shared bedrooms with multiple beds.  Breakfast is included.


We are also looking at offering a few single rooms available on request and are prioritizing participants with special needs.

Do I have to pay for my flight?

The forum organizers are currently fundraising for this purpose and aim to cover travel expenses for most, if not all participants. More details will soon be available.

Will you cover my visa expenses?

If you require a visa to travel to Portugal, we will be able to provide a visa letter. However, we will not cover costs.

Do I need a passport to travel to Portugal?

If you are not a national of a European Union member state, you will need a passport. Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) is not responsible for providing a passport or travel documents to selected participants. Please liaise with your embassy or consulate if any questions and ensure your passport is valid at least 6 months before expiry date.

Are meals included?

We offer coffee breaks with drinks and light snacks and lunches during the days of the forum (May 30 & 31). A buffet lunch will be served on May 30 and 31, 2020.

Non-alcoholic drinks and finger foods will be served during the cocktail reception on May 29, 2020 (location TBC).

If selected, what do I need to bring with me?

Please bring a notepad, a pen, (if needed) your laptop, business cards (if you have), summer clothes, passion and enthusiasm!

Please also note:

  • we will not provide water bottles. Bring your tumblr!
  • the hostels will not provide any toiletries. Please bring your own soaps, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, towel(s) and any accessories you may need.

What is the dress code?

Dress code for the length of the conference is business attire. For the welcoming cocktail reception, please wear a cocktail attire. THIS IS A STRICT REQUIREMENT. 

You may wear traditional business attire worn in your country of origin (i.e. Indian koti, Nigerian Agbada, etc.)

Do I need vaccination to travel to Portugal?

Vaccination is not required. If you are uncertain, please liaise with the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your country.

I am from a place currently being affected by the Coronavirus and associated quarantines, can I still apply?

Yes. The OYF organizers are monitoring the situation, the review of nominations will not be affected by these concerns.

However, nominees from countries or areas still subject to travel restrictions on April 3rd, can unfortunately not be invited.

Other questions?

Please note: SOA cannot provide any additional information related to the UN Accreditation and Registration process. If you have further questions, you must consult the Participate page of the UN Ocean Conference. SOA will not reply to requests on this subject.

Please be sure that you have read the FAQ section carefully. Due to the volume of information requests received, questions already answered on this page will not be responded to.

For other queries, contact us at oceanyouthforum@soalliance.org


Applications close on March 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm PST